Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Buffy Novel (Part I)

In the Spring of 2002, I fell in love. With a t.v. show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The affair started off innocently enough--a friend loaned me the Season One DVDs; but soon enough, things between me and the show were hot and heavy, eventually leading to a pop culture obession the likes of which have never been repeated in my life. This is the story of Hell Frozen Over (www.geocities.com/jhaeman), my unpublished Buffy novel.

In the Spring and early Summer of 2002, I was still living in Lincoln, Nebraska. I had finished law school but knew I would be moving to Toronto with my ex later in the summer, so I had several months of nothing but free time. The idea struck me--why not write a Buffy novel? I had seen several in the stores and it seemed like a fun way to occupy some time.

The first thing I did was figure out how long a Buffy novel should be. I counted the number of words on a few different pages from one of the first published Buffy novels, averaged them out, and then multiplied by the total number of pages in the book and got a total of around 30,000 words. I promptly set to work writing, with a goal of ten 3,000 word chapters.

The plot involved Buffy and her friends getting lured away from Sunnydale with "free tickets" to a largely defunct ski resort. In retrospect, quite Scooby Doo-ish, but at the time it seemed like a clever way to tell a story that hadn't been done before--how does the gang fare outside of Sunnydale and in cold, snowy conditions? The villains, from what I recall, were a nasty corporate-raider vampire and a Pentagon bureaucrat out for revenge, who had outfitted himself with stolen government technology to become a vampire hunter.

Now, when I wrote the novel, I had only seen Season 1 and part of Season 2 on DVD and I fastidiously avoided spoilers. The show itself was up towards Season Six and Angel had also aired a few seasons. I explain this because I had no idea that evil corporate types were a major theme on Angel (Wolfram & Hart) and that high-tech government vampire hunters was the main story arc for Season Four of Buffy (The Initiative). Heck, even the idea of Buffy, et al. encountering snow had been done before (in an episode titled Amends).

Anyway, although I had a great time writing the book, I began to flag a bit there near the end and I was glad when I was finished. I put it away for a few weeks to get ready for the move to Toronto and then, after getting settled in, I poked around on the Internet to see where to submit it. Now, I can't say I had high hopes of getting it published--I knew they must receive a lot of submissions; but on the other hand, I was quite proud of it and thought it had several original ideas and exciting action scenes. But when I found the submission guidelines, I saw they wanted a minimum of 60,000 words--twice what I had written!

How can this climactic cliffhanger be resolved? Find out next time on Jhaeman's Detritus!

Monday, December 15, 2008


After watching the first season, I'm not sure what I think of the short-lived British series Hex. It's a supernatural-oriented show set at an upper-crust boarding school and the plot centers around a female student who learns she's a witch and is being hunted by a fallen angel named Azaezel. The supernatural+high school element draws inevitable comparisons to Buffy, but Hex has a very different style--more soap opera and less episodic, and with far fewer action scenes. What Hex does have going for it is one of the best title sequences I've ever seen for setting tone (on par with Carnivale's), a great supporting character (a lesbian ghost), and a little more leeway in terms of profanity and nudity. Only the first ten episodes are available on DVD in North America, although a second nine episodes aired in England before the show was cancelled. I'd definitely be interested in watching more to see how the show ends, but I don't think it'll be one I'll mourn its early cancellation.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I was lucky enough the other day to find (in the bargain bin) a copy of the movie Timecop to add to my "movies based on comic books collection." Or, at least, I consider myself lucky--my sig-other was horrified at the purchase; but I say, a collection's a collection, and if you exclude bad things from a collection, well then it becomes a selection, not a collection. Anyway . . .

Timecop was (according to Wikipedia) one of Jean-Claude Van Damme's most successful movies, both financially and critically. The story, which you may manage to surmise from the title, involves a law enforcement agency charged with making sure that time travellers don't go messing with the past for their own illicit purposes. As far as I'm concerned, it's not a half-bad movie, with solid special effects, old-fashioned kick-boxing action, and even a nice twist about halfway through. Like every story involving time travel, it creates headache-inducing paradoxes, but c'est la vie.

Now, the credits to the movie say that it was "Based on the Dark Horse comic book", which was the basis for my including it in my collection. A Internet search reveals only one Timecop comic, which was an adaptation of the movie. So there seems to be a chicken and the egg conundrum (perhaps time travel was involved?). It's possible that the Timecop idea appeared first inside another comic, but my guess is that Dark Horse simply pitched the concept to a studio as a property and then came out with the comic once the movie got the go-ahead. It certainly wouldn't be the first time successful movies were based off of concepts that were barely noticed in the comics world--Men in Black being a good example.

Apparently the Timecop movie spawned a short-lived t.v. series, a novel line, and even a sequel movie--I can't wait until my sig-other sees Timecop 2: The Berlin Decision in my collection!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


The sixth book in the Babylon 5 series, titled Betrayals, continues the generally high quality of the novel line. The book reads much like a two-part episode, with a handful of subplots and one main plot (admittedly somewhat cliched), involving a peace conference between the Narns and the Centauri which may be disrupted by terrorists. Unlike previous novels that focussed mainly on a couple of characters, each of the cast members gets several scenes and their personalities and dialogue fit well with what's presented in the show. In terms of larger significance, the novel doesn't drastically expand our understanding of the Babylon 5 universe, but it does add a little more background into Ivanova and Na'Toth. Now, I wouldn't call the novel line an "electrifying series of original, breathtaking outer-space adventures" like the back cover does, but on the whole I've been happy with the B5 books and Betrayals is no exception.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Clone Wars Campaign: Recap # 6

This begins the Ansion story arc. Ansion is a planet featured in the pretty good Star Wars novel The Approaching Storm, and I always like to create continuity between my campaign and the EU whenever possible. Similarly, the character of I-5 (who quickly became one of the players' favorite NPCs) came from the novel Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter. Ignatius was a character I based on the protagonist from the very non-Star Wars novel A Confederacy of Dunces; I thought he would be funnier and more interesting than he turned out to be. This particular session was one of my favorite individual efforts as I think I created quite the haunted atmosphere for the radiation-filled space station (I even used a red bulb in the room's only light to increase the players' apprehension).

Episode 2.2, The Ominous Silence, Session 2

The Clone War has engulfed thousands of planets throughout the galaxy. But here are still sectors left untouched by battle--sectors too remote and of little apparent strategic value to either the Republic or the Separatists.

On the farthest edge of known space, Ansion seems to be just such a system. Only nominally a member of the Republic, the isolated and technologically backwards planet has little to offer--except for a rare substance that could save the lives of thousands of the Republic's clone troopers.

But why have there been no transmissions or ships from the sector in months? With time running out, a group of travelers from the other side of the galaxy have come to find out . . .

Ycram wakes up and reveals he saw the Rodian Twitch running away from the ship on Mongui just before he was knocked unconscious. The ship docks at the Skyhook, and the group encounters I-5YQ, a silver protocol droid (and Ignatius D'avilos' majordomo). Marpa spacewalks to investigate the power leak on Delia's Ultimatum and recovers from the outer hull a sophisticated tracking device that signals whenever coordinates have been entered into the ship's hyperspace computer. Meanwhile, Arresta, Tarn, and Ycram meet with Ignatius.

Ignatius outlines why the facility is unable to process and ship Xoorzi kelp: (1) a radiation bomb was smuggled in and detonated on the third level of the facility (causing a severe power loss), but radiation-scrubbing droids are always destroyed by unknown causes shortly after entering that level; (2) constant attacks by the same group of terrorists have disrupted operations; (3) months ago, a strange object appeared in the system and, ever since, no hyperspace communications or ships have been able to leave.

Ignatius also reveals that one of the terrorists has been captured and is being held in the Skyhook's anchor facility on Ansion. Ignatius plans to quit and sell the station to Soergg the Hutt, but Tarn convinces him to wait a few days to see if they can get power back on line. Tarn meets with a Kaminoan named Ceela Selu. She reveals that she and her partner, Gemma Vous, came to the Skyhook to study the Xoorzi kelp and its effects on clone troopers, but that Gemma was trapped on the third level when the radiation bomb exploded. Since then, Ceela has been studying the anomaly. She has learned that every 19 days it opens up (the next time will be 77 AG) and sends out a strange pulse of light and theorizes that that may be the only time to enter it. She also says that a Jedi Master named Sarigar had sent a message stating he would be arriving at the station, but he never did (a raider attack has occurred near his expected arrival time).

The group decides to don radiation suits and enter the third level to reset the reactor. They encounter grotesque radiation-scarred Ugnaughts and the clearly insane Kaminoan Gemma Vous, who has been conducting strange experiments. Ycram retreats to the safety of a shuttle and I-5 is heavily damaged. After a series of battles, the group manages to reset the reactor but are forced to flee in escape pods.

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